A 5 a.m. alarm? In a college dorm room?
It’s one that Penn High School alum Lauren Kramer eagerly answered at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo – three time zones away from Penn Instructor Jim Langfeldt’s Black 1 Architecture Class.
Kramer, a 2020 Penn graduate, connected with Langfeldt’s Black 1 class – which started at 8:55 a.m. Eastern Time, through a Google Meet on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.
“I love helping Penn High School,” Kramer said. “I wanted to meet with the students (Wednesday morning), so that I could help to guide them, and give them more ideas about architecture school.
“When I was a senior, I remember being confused and unaware of how architecture school even works, and I thought that if someone would've explained how it all worked to me I would've felt less overwhelmed.”
Kramer wanted to impart some of her passion for architecture to the students who were sitting in the same architecture lab that she sat in as a Penn student. She also shared the reality that architecture is a challenging major that is work-intensive.
“I wanted the students to first of all get excited about architecture, because it is a fantastic major and a great degree to pursue,” Kramer said. “Clearly, I am really passionate about architecture, and I hope after speaking with them they are excited about college and potentially pursuing this career. I also wanted students to understand that architecture is a challenging major. It's a lot of work, and realistically if students aren't interested in doing the work, they should consider pursuing something else. Architecture is an amazing major and career to pursue, but you have to be willing to put in the work in order to succeed.”
Penn Senior Brendan Kerr appreciated the opportunity to hear from Kramer about what to expect at the collegiate level.
“This experience has shown me what pursuing architecture after high school might really look like,” said Kerr, who is considering attending the University of Cincinnati or Ball State to study architecture.
“These types of experiences (a Google Meet with a college architecture student) make class relevant by assuring me that this is what I want to do after high school,” Kerr said. “It gives all of us in the class information that we might not have received in a regular class setting or even doing research on our own.”
Kerr said that the glimpse into the reality of an architecture major was helpful.
“One of the biggest things that I took away from Lauren's talk was that Architecture is one of the most dependent and time-consuming majors out there, and that there will be times when you're pulling all-nighters back-to-back nights to reach a deadline,” Kerr said. “But that all doesn't matter if that is what you really want to do in your life and that you are having fun doing it.”
Kramer said that she is embracing the challenge of pursuing an architecture major.
“I love everything about architecture,” Kramer said. “Architecture is a more fluid concept than a lot of people think it is. A degree in architecture can be applied in a lot of different fields, and this openness to pursue different endeavors is something that I really value. I also love being creative and problem solving and architecture is the perfect means in order to do this.”
Kramer said that Penn helped prepare her for an academically elite college like Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
“I feel like classes at Penn prepared me for rigorous academic coursework that I do now,” Kramer said. “In terms of architecture, Penn High School architecture classes are what really got me interesting in the field. Without those classes, I probably would be in a different major.
“Mr. Langfeldt was always super encouraging to me to pursue my dreams, and this encouragement really impacted me to continue with architecture. I hope that in the future more students at Penn will be able to go through the architecture program, and be equally inspired to pursue their dreams.”
Kramer’s advice to high school students is to explore all college options.
“As far as choosing a college, I wish I would've known more about the difference in programs such as the difference between a bachelors and masters in architecture,” Kramer said. “In recent months, I've realized that I love to teach and I think that I am going to eventually pursue my master’s degree so that I can become a college professor.
“In retrospect, knowing more information about these different programs would've been helpful. I also think it's super important as a high school student to explore all of your college options because a school like Cal Poly seemed like an impossible dream to me, but I researched, worked hard, and made it happen.”
According to Langfeldt, the Architecture School in college is often misinterpreted as an Engineering or Construction management degree. He said that Kramer has been focused on architecture since middle school.
“Her talents in Art as well as Design suit her perfectly for success as an Architect,” Langfeldt said. “It is very impactful to have a recent Penn Graduate reach out to my students to give them valuable insight into not only the Architecture experience in college but also how to navigate the college search. I am very proud of Lauren Kramer.”